Aprilia Tuono 125 and RS 125 (2017) - first ride and review

Kane Dalton
By Kane Dalton

Club, Endurance and Isle of Man racer, been riding bikes since 1970 something, got the bug sitting on the back of my dad’s 400 Four. First ride was an Italjet followed by RM80 and YZ125 dirt bikes, current bikes range from agricultural to exotic. Writing about bikes for four years.

Aprilia Tuono 125 and RS 125

The big news of this double launch is that Aprilia have launched a new naked street fighter, the Tuono which shares the RS 125 DNA but built with everyday riding in mind. And this cracking little versatile street fighter has monstrous Italian styling to boot.

Also updated for 2017 is the RS 125 which is born from the race pedigree from the firm that has won 54 World Championships.

I fell in love with road riding on my 125cc when I was 12...ahem, I mean 16 of course back in South Africa. Here was my passport to abandonment, it’s a declaration of freedom and indulgence, a compass to new adventure.

At a glance you it would be easy to mistake both new bikes for their big sisters Tuono V4 1100 or RSV4. Aprilia have paid attention to detail that much is true and with the bikes parked next to each other you need to pay close attention to work our which one is which. The smaller bikes even share some components with the big bikes like the fairing nose cones. Even the the motor looks similar.

We have been testing the new bikes at a test track in Badan, on the edge of the black forest in Germany. The Badan track is a 2.5km it is fairly narrow with a long straight, tight bends, and a few throttle-to-the-stopper sweeping corners. I think it's very similar to Lyden Hill in Kent because both suit smaller, light-weight and agile bikes that are happiest flopping rapidly from one turn to another. It’s a great test of how the bike will perform on the road.

2017 Aprilia RS125 Badan Germany Kane Dalton

It is a test, not a race !!!

2017 Aprilia RS125 Badan Germany

 

A test is never a race!

The marshals stopped us after the first session for a quiet word, apparently they did not think it was the best idea for us to ride and battle inches apart sometimes four abreast under and overtaking in the corners. We were given strict instructions to give each other room and to save overtaking for the straight.

With everyone riding restricted bikes it was difficult to stick to the rules as a drag race on the straight meant the that lighter jockeys had the advantage and the heavier ones had to be brave on the brakes or bend the rules a little. Who knew a 125 could be that much fun.

Being one of the heavy ones I 'had' to push the brakes and the boundaries. This gave me a chance to test how easy it was to slow the bikes really, really quickly.

I was pleased that both bikes are fitted with Bosch ABS. This safety feature is designed to prevent you locking the front wheel when braking really hard in an emergency situation or over surfaces with reduced or zero grip. Bosch test braking performance over all surfaces like wet cobble stones, dusty road and on a wet simulation track.

I tested the brakes braking really hard form at least 75 mph. The brakes work really well and slow the bike with ease and confidence.

It is always best to get all your braking done in a straight line before you commit to turning the bike. Sometimes you have to be on the brakes and turn at the same time, (usually in a high stress situation like avoiding something that has pulled out in front of you). I tested changing direction on the brakes and found both bikes were stable.

Both bikes have a single 300 mm front brake disc with 4–piston radial calipers.

2017 Aprilia RS125 Badan Germany

Tuono 125

The Tuono is so easy to ride, it is extremely light and flickable from on corner to the next with little input. Changing direction is a breeze and if you are new to riding this will be a confidence inspiring choice.

You don’t have to lean or hang off the bike to get it turned either, just small inputs. Being able to turn the bike quickly with stability also means that you can get out of harms way easier and with confidence. If you've just passed your test and you want an all-round bike that can do everything well then the Tuono is a fine option. It also means that you're likely to find yourself riding 20 miles to the shops in the next town just because you can. So, the fact that at 14.5 litres, the Aprilia has the largest fuel tank among its 125cc rivals also helps.

The Tuono is the first naked bike in the 125cc category with half-fairing, offering a degree of wind protection but also add a little down force on the front wheel to gain extra stability. The upright riding position makes it easy to see ahead and makes for a comfortable ride and is ably assisted by the rather comfortable double seat that is slightly wider and 10mm lower than the RS. The handle bars are wider than the RS and positioned in an upright stance helping to make the steering inputs easier. All in all, sitting more vertical is more comfortable riding ride longer distances.

Adding to the ride quality is the Tuono's air cushioned rubber mounted footpegs that reduce vibration. The pegs are positioned lower to the ground giving more room on the bike. This means there is less ground clearance but it was not a problem on the test. Aprilia also put some thought into ground clearance when they designed the exhaust placement.  The new exhaust is a neat integrated system that sits under the bike which looks great and prevents you from touching the exhaust down in tight turns or at extreme lean angles.

Under the seat is a large, practical storage space with a USB port so you can recharge your smartphone or any other device. The new USB port is available on both the Tuono and the RS.

2017 Aprilia RS125 Badan Germany

The dash on both bikes offer both digital and analogue information and like race bikes the analogue rev counter is the biggest feature showing the way to the 12,000rpm redline.

The large dial makes it easy to judge when to change gear and there's no reflection or sun glare obscuring the view. The multifunction digital display has handlebar controls for the speedometer, trip meter, battery voltage, clock and stopwatch with memory for 20 laps. There are simple easy to read warning lights like temperature indicator and fuel reserve.

The bikes come with upside-down forks, and a rear monoshock and speaking to Piero Soatti, Head of Bike at Aprilia, he said, "The Aprilia test riders range from petit to heavy, we set up the suspension to work best somewhere in the middle.’’

I'm on the heavy side so I found the set up soft for track. On the road it will be a good compromise and particularly for the new or inexperienced riders whereas advanced riders may consider upgrading the forks and shock to get custom settings and performance they same way racers do.

I pushed the Mitas tyres to the edge of their grip capability on the track and I'm sure the road grip and mileage will be more than suitable for a novice rider but I'd recommend investing in some better quality rubber for the intermediate / advanced riders.

Both bikes are narrow enough to make it really easy to slip through traffic, they will be perfect for a rush hour commute. 

2017 Aprilia RS125 Badan Germany

RS 125cc

The RS is an updated version of the already extremely popular 2016 model which has sold over 100,000 worldwide. The RS is a mini version of the RSV4 and takes its DNA from the race track. This is the same DNA comes from winning 54 world titles including Rider and Manufacturer championships.

Sadly they don’t make the replica two stoke RS 125s anymore, the main reason is new emissions regulation, higher build and maintenance costs. (Need to rebuild race two strokes after every race and frequently when used on the road). Back in the day derestricted two stokes could make 35 bhp and reach speeds up to 110 mph. New euro legislation and UK licence law means that this has changed.

The new liquid cooled single cylinder four stroke engines in the Tuono and the RS are more reliable and needs far less maintenance. They are cheaper to produce and that cost saving is passed on to you. The engine is limited to 15 bhp so you can ride the bike with an A1 licence, that is once you have passed a CBT (Compulsory Bike Training). On the back straight I could consistently get 76.25 mph but when I slip-streamed another rider I saw78.75 mph. I am 6ft 2 and weigh approximately fifteen stone so that's not too shabby from a small low powered motor.

One left hand bend you enter fully committed, flat out just as you clip sixth gear and the speedo reads 66 mph on the way to 75, on the narrow track you feel like you are doing 180.

You need to rev the engine to wind it up to maximum power. The secret of riding the RS fast is to get it up to maximum speed and then keep that speed up. Braking hard means you have to work your way back up through the gears again, this takes time and effort which means you lose momentum. Keeping the revs and corner speed up is the way to do it. At first I found myself between the rev limiter and the next gear bogging down slightly.

The RS has a more race / sporty stance as you are lean over the tank thanks to the lower handle bars. This position puts you over the front wheel which gives you more feedback and focus when you are riding faster. It also gives you more stability when you start hanging off the bike. The position of the bars and the slightly higher seat invite you to ride in a more tucked position and the tank as a nice edge that allows you you lock your leg in place when you hang off the bike.

The more aggressive riding position may not be for everyone but it will be perfect for those looking for a sporty ride. Even at 6 ft 2, I was able to get fully tucked in with my my chin on the tank. It's obviously got less room than the superbike but still enough to fit comfortably.

I was determined to get every inch streamlined so had everything I could tucked in and squeezed tight to the bike to inch out another one or two mph in the hunt.

The foot pegs are set higher offering more ground clearance, but less room than the Tuono, they don't have the rubber comfort mounts either. The pegs have sharper profiles to get most boot grip. The the RS is so good lent over I had to to move my feet even further back than usual as I was still dragging my toes through some tight bends where I was riding at the maximum lean angle and on the edge of the tyre.

The RS and Tuono have an optional quickshift, this means you can change gears up through the box between 2nd and 6th gear without using the clutch. On a small capacity bike, you make frequent gear changes, the quickshift saves you all the effort with the clutch. It also makes for a smooth quick change up. You usually see this as an option on the new superbikes and 99% of race bikes use them. The RS bikes we tested had quickshift and they worked really well. I was always on the limiter or red line so the quick shift was genius as it made all those changes fast and seamless.

The aluminium frame is stiff which adds to the sporty feel. The stiffer frame gives you a bit more confidence in corners and also helps with agility. For example, in the middle of one left hand hairpin there was a bump and rough patch just before the apex. I could not find a quick line that didn't take me over this section. A number of times I had the bike leaned over on my knee, hitting the bump I felt the bike go heavier on my knee, which meant the wheels where losing traction. It found grip all by itself, the pressure on my knee went light, I was able to stand the bike up and I carried on with my planned trajectory. With the right rubber this bike is good for elbow down riding.

Prices:

Tuono

(Red or Silver):                                                        £4,599.00

RS

(Black or Silver):                                                     £4,699.00

RS Replica

(Moto GP livery & quickshifter)                             £4,799.00

2017 Aprilia RS125 Badan Germany Kane Dalton
2017 Aprilia RS125 Badan Germany Kane Dalton
Aprilia V1100 Tuono, Aprila RSV4, Tuono 125cc, RS 125cc

SPECIFICATIONS

APRILIA TUONO 125 MY 2017 Technical Specifications

Engine type

Four stroke liquid cooled single cylinder with electronic injection and 4 valves

Distribution

Double overhead camshaft - DOHC

Bore and stroke

58 x 47 mm

Displacement

124.2 cc

Maximum power at crankshaft

15 CV (11 kW) at 10,750 rpm

Maximum torque at crankshaft

12 Nm at 8,000 rpm

Compression ratio

12.5 ± 0.5:1

ECU

Magneti Marelli M3G ø 32mm ECU

Start up

Electronic with CDI capacity discharge

Starter

Electrical

Alternator

13V - 235W

Lubrication

Wet sump

Gearbox

6 speed:

1st 11/33 (0.33)

2nd 15/30 (0.50)

3rd 18/27 (0.67)

4th 20/24 (0.83)

5th 25/27 (0.92)

6th 23/22 (1.05)

Primary drive

Gears: 69/29 (2,38)

Final drive

Chain: 60/13 (4,61)

Clutch

Multiple discs, in oil bath

Frame

Aluminium perimeter frame

Front suspension

40 mm upside down fork, wheel excursion 110 mm

Rear suspension

Asymmetric swingarm with monoshock, wheel travel 120 mm

Brakes

Front: 300 mm stainless steel disc with radial 4 piston caliper

Rear: 218 mm stainless steel disc and caliper with single 30 mm piston

Wheel rims

In light alloy with 6 split spokes, with sealing profile for tubeless tyres

Front: 2.75 x 17"

Rear: 3.50 x 17"

ABS

BOSCH

Tyres

Front: 100/80 - 17"

Rear: 130/70 - 17"

Dimensions

Max. length: 1,968 mm

Max. width: 835 mm

Wheelbase: 1,353 mm

Max height at top fairing: 1,090 mm

Saddle height: 810 mm

Tank

14,5 litre capacity (including 3.5 litre reserve)

 

APRILIA RS 125 MY 2017 Technical Specifications

Engine type

Four stroke liquid cooled single cylinder with electronic injection and 4 valves

Distribution

Double overhead camshaft - DOHC

Bore and stroke

58 x 47 mm

Displacement

124.2 cc

Maximum power at crankshaft

15 CV (11 kW) at 10,750 rpm

Maximum torque at crankshaft

10.5 Nm at 8,000 rpm

Compression ratio

12,5 ± 0,5:1

ECU

Magneti Marelli M3G ø 32mm ECU

Start up

Electronic with CDI capacity discharge

Starter

Electrical

Alternator

13V - 235W

Lubrication

Wet sump

Gearbox

6 speed:

1st 11/33 (0.33)

2nd 15/30 (0.50)

3rd 18/27 (0.67)

4th 20/24 (0.83)

5th 25/27 (0.92)

6th 23/22 (1.05)

Primary drive

Gears: 69/29 (2.38)

Final drive

Chain: 60/13 (4.61)

Clutch

Multiple discs, in oil bath

Frame

Aluminium perimeter frame

Front suspension

40 mm upside down fork, wheel excursion 110 mm

Rear suspension

Asymmetric swingarm with monoshock, wheel travel 120 mm

Brakes

Front: 300 mm stainless steel disc with radial 4 piston caliper

Rear: 218 mm stainless steel disc and caliper with single 30 mm piston

Wheel rims

In light alloy with 6 split spokes, with sealing profile for tubeless tyres

Front: 2.75 x 17"

Rear: 3.50 x 17"

ABS

BOSCH

Tyres

Front: 100/80 - 17"

Rear: 130/70 - 17"

Dimensions

Max. length: 1,968 mm

Max. width: 760 mm

Wheelbase: 1,353 mm

Max height at top fairing: 1,135 mm

Saddle height: 820 mm

Tank

14.5 litre capacity (including 3.5 litre reserve)

 

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